Kapo! was originally released as an eponymously titled LP in 1996. This expanded reissue under the Death In June banner features 6 extra tracks (remixes from 2003) and is released in digifile format with 8 page lyric booklet. Listening to this album is like experiencing a film for the ears. Kapo! is a suite of linked songs and instrumentals, but there is no clear narrative – rather it’s a succession of dreamlike moments.
Kapo! is a collaboration between Douglas P of Death In June and Richard Leviathan of neofolk outfit Ostara. One of the most notable things about this album is that Richard Leviathan doesn’t really sing on it – he intones spoken word lyrics on ‘Wolf Wind’ and ‘Kopfjager’, and contributes occasional backing vocals. This is surprising as he has one of the most distinctive voices in neofolk. But perhaps he decided to subsume his ego here so as not to detract from the overall vibe of the album – and that vibe is very much nocturnal, oneiric and gloomy.
Drums and percussion are used intermittently, and when present are mixed well back. This contributes to the floating, dreamy feel of the music. Opener ‘Wolf Wind’ sets the tone for the whole album: strummed acoustic guitar, spoken/whispered vocals intoning dark poetry, martial drums echoing in the background, string synth colouring the refrain, sampled voices floating in and out of the mix in a disorienting manner. Instrumental ‘A Sad Place to Make a Shadow’ is perhaps the most film soundtracky thing on here, with cello, strings, clarinet, horn etc all swathed in reverb, playing a mournful, halting tune. The brooding ‘Lullaby to a Ghetto’ seems to sum up the overall haunted, desolate feel of the record – “Don’t look to God, He’s turned away…”.